Harassment in the workplace is degrading to the people affected by abuse, and it places other employees in an unsafe environment. Even if the person who is doing the harassing thinks that it is all in good fun, it’s not appropriate. Simply stating to your employees that times have changed is not enough. The reality is, supervisors play a huge role in whether harassment is allowed to continue and there are several ways to get your employees on the same page.
Explain the Impact
Address the reasons why harassment is no longer okay, and avoid focusing on only certain types of harassment. Try to give a broad overview of what could be construed as harassment and how it affects the employee’s family, lowers productivity, and decreases morale. It can result in an increase in turnover, and it can tarnish the reputation of the company. There are also very real legal costs that could be incurred.
Detail the Types of Discrimination
Require your employees to understand that discrimination can take many forms. Age, creed, and color are all possible ways to discriminate against someone. Making fun of race, familial status, or a disability is also not okay. Employees should be respectful of national origins, sexual orientation, and gender. Make sure your managers are aware of which types are legally protected under the law, and which might be more specific to your company’s policies. According to the Sattiraju Law Firm, P.C., legally protected forms of discrimination are usually race, sex, color, and national origin. If any of these issues come into play, it can be cause for dismissal from the job and possible legal action. By making your employees aware, they will be more likely to come to you at the outset of a problem.
Pay Attention to Any Complaints
Make it possible for employees to submit complaints privately and anonymously if they choose. This way, employees who might be shyer can still have their rights protected. If you receive a complaint, take it seriously and monitor the suspected employee. Confront workers at the first sign of any abuse, and have a private talk with them about their behavior. Usually just one warning is enough to get behaviors to change quickly.
Don’t take potentially contentious legal issues into your own hands. Seek the advice of professionals who can advise you. If you have an employee that is harassing another, you want to make sure you don’t take any steps to put the company at fault. The stakes are very high in harassment cases, and you want to make sure you do what is right. Use these tips to find a good middle ground and avoid messy situations.